Evart bank robbery case moves forward to circuit court

EVART  — A bank teller and multiple members of law enforcement testified Thursday in Osceola County's 77th District Court during a preliminary examination for a Florida duo charged with robbing an Evart bank.

David Raymond Dingee, 52, and Melissa Renee Nudd, 30, both of Pompano Beach, Fla., remain lodged at the Osceola County Jail after being arrested for allegedly robbing the First Merit Bank on May 26.

Heather Keathley, a bank teller at First Merit Bank, took the stand to give her account of what occurred in May at the bank.

Responding to questions from Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson, Keathley stated a gentleman came into the bank, said hello and then had a seat. After she waited on other customers, the man approached her and unveiled a weapon.

"He pointed a gun at me and said give me all your money or he'd blow my brains out," Keathley testified.

The man made off with roughly $2,200, Keathly said. Being six months pregnant at the time, Keathley told the court she was terrified. She later added she was stunned because things like this don't happen in a small town.

On cross examination by Dingee's attorney Jim Samuels, Keathley stated she did not see the suspect get in a vehicle or see what direction he headed.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jed Avery was the first police officer to testify during the preliminary examination. Avery and his K-9 unit conducted the stop that pulled over Dingee and Nudd.

Avery identified Nudd as the driver, while Dingee was in the passenger seat. Avery was on his way to the reported armed bank robbery, lights flashing, as he passed the truck Dingee and Nudd occupied on 80th Avenue near 15 Mile Road. Avery was driving southbound, while they were headed north. However, the vehicle did not yield to his lights and sirens like the other vehicles, as required by law.

Avery testified he found this suspicious. The vehicle also was similar in description to a possible suspect vehicle, described as a blue and silver pickup truck. While nobody at the bank saw the suspect get in a vehicle, police had received a report of someone driving recklessly around the time of the robbery near the Evart Middle School.

On his suspicions, Avery turned his patrol car around, following the vehicle and eventually attempting to pull the vehicle over. However, the driver continued for several miles before stopping.

Once the vehicle was pulled over, Avery waited about two minutes before backup arrived and then proceeded with the felony traffic stop.

On cross examination, Samuels pointed out the varying descriptions used for the truck, including references to it being blue and silver, green and gray and green and silver.

Avery stated he believed the vehicle to be blue on first look, but once the vehicle was stopped he realized it was green. That's why it was listed as green in reports, but first called out as blue during radio communication. On the stand, Avery described the color as aqua.

Along with Avery, numerous other police officers provided testimony about their role in the investigation.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office Deputy Larry Start testified he arrived on the scene of the traffic stop and Dingee was handcuffed. He talked to the man, explaining they were investigating a robbery. After being provided a picture from video footage at the bank, Start was able to confirm Dingee was the suspect and arrested him. When he searched the man, Start found a wad of cash in his front pocket.

Dingee also told Start there was a gun in the glove box that belonged to his girlfriend, Start testifed.

Michigan State Police Trooper Michael Zeilinger told the court he collected evidence from the vehicle, including the gun found in the glove box. He testified the gun was a 9mm with eight rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.

An Osceola County Corrections Officer also testified a wad of money was found on Nudd when she was searched at the jail.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office Detective John Keathley (a distant cousin of Heather Keathley's husband) discussed interviewing Dingee on the day of the suspect's arrest.

The detective testified Dingee told him he waited until there were no customers and then robbed the bank, having Nudd pick him up after and proceed northbound. The suspect also revealed he had been on Oxycontin and was recently released from prison in Florida after serving 22 years for second-degree murder, Keathley said.

Defense attorney Steven Benson, who represents Nudd, asked if Dingee gave any information on whether the woman had knowledge about this alleged robbery.

"Not according to Mr. Dingee," Keathley answered. "She had no knowledge prior, during or after."

After hearing the evidence, District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic ruled the cases against the two defendants would be bound over to Osceola County's 49th Circuit Court. However, he found there was not enough probable cause to support one of Dingee's original charges.

Dingee and Nudd are each charged with one count of armed robbery, one count of bank robbery, one count of larceny of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of larceny in a building and one count of felony firearm. Nudd also faces one count of fourth-degree fleeing a police officer.

Dingee also faces additional charges of one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of possession of ammunition by a felon. Dingee is charged as a habitual offender because of prior felony convictions in Florida. According to court documents, Dingee was convicted in 1995 of robbery with a deadly weapon and later that year convicted of burglary of a dwelling. In 1999, he was convicted of second-degree murder.

All the charges were bound over, except for a count of fourth-degree fleeing a police officer against Dingee.

When first arraigned, both Nudd and Dingee were denied bond. They remain lodged at the Osceola County Jail.